The letter below is one I wrote specifically to
the video game developers at Namco. The idea was to start a dialogue about some of the characters in the Tekken series. In addition, I wanted to bring a critical eye to fact and fiction regarding the martial arts and their handling within the video game medium as a form of entertainment.The letter was never published anywhere as far as I know of.
To whom it may concern,
I’m writing in regards to the Tekken series. I would imagine that this email could be forwarded through the proper channels if it created enough interest. Here’s for a little bit of hope. Anyway, let me start by saying that I have been a fan of the series since it first came out. I’m especially a fan of the Karate based characters such as Jin, Kazuya, Heihachi and Paul. Its obvious that their moves especially the striking based ones are based off a well known Karate known as Kyokushin which is the style made famous world wide by Masutatsu Oyama.
My email comes as a concern for the story and for the integrity of the characters. I realize that in developing a game with several iterations it becomes harder and harder to keep up with the continuity of its characters, and as I’ve stated prior I’ve been following since the very beginning. It seems to me that some of the Karate based characters have taken the role of joke characters such as Heihachi and Paul. I’ve noticed that in the ending movies for the aforementioned characters, for instance Paul Phoenix that while he may be a very tough and brutal character as characterized by his Judo and Kyokushin influence he has become quite the gut busting laughing stock. I find this offensive as a Karateka, and more so as an American Karateka at that. Paul Phoenix’s signature move the “Phoenix Smasher,” or commonly referred to as the Jun Tsuki in Kyokushin is one of the strongest techniques in the game.
I feel as if the character while remaining in the higher tiers is a contender in his own rite towards any of the other characters should be well respected on all fronts just the same as his Japanese counter-parts/contemporaries. I find it a little disturbing that Heihachi and Paul Phoenix exemplify Mas Oyama’s spirit the most in your game as he was known for his tremendous punching prowess, and yet their common perception is to be viewed as eccentrics. I.E. Paul Phoenix wanting to be the master of the universe. Its a bit degrading, especially to those of us who take our way of life very seriously. Paul Phoenix does seem a little dense but I mean come on the guy deserves a little respect. He dedicated his life to an art that no one even seems to grasp on a metaphysical level save for his Japanese counterparts? Maybe I’m reading a little too much into this but are you as Japanese developers implying that no one else outside of the Japanese can understand the spiritual or technical aspects of Karate soundly unless they are of course Japanese? What ever happened to the Kazuya vs Paul rivalry? It seemed like they never resolved their confrontation in later games with the advent of Paul declaring that he was the best in the universe and what not.
Also I find it equally disturbing that a character like Bob who is a morbidly obese American martial artist has the ability to move around the way he does. It just doesn’t seem physically possible for a character to be as high up in the tier rankings with that many physical disadvantages. I also feel that as an American its a stereotypical jab at the youth of America for playing so many video games and eating so many junk foods. A very subtle jab but a jab nonetheless.
Its obvious that a lot of the characters in the Tekken series are physically based off real life people. I find that while Paul Phoenix may have the look and feel of an amalgamation of Bill Super Foot Wallace/Chuck Norris ultimately he has more in commonality with Oyama. In accordance with Oyama and Kyokushin Karate I would hope that his will be better respected due to the fact that he created Kyokushin Karate to test the boundaries of one’s own strength through physical, mental, and spiritual means. I do realize that Tekken is a game but it would be fantastic if the developers of said game could put a little more thought into the development of their characters, especially characters who have been in the game since it came out all those years ago. It just seems a little off putting that more established characters would be tossed to the way side for more younger and arbitrarily contrived characters for the sake of poor plot development. Yes I know fighting games are notorious for their horrible plots but come on you guys can do better than that.
Which brings me to another point the whole story behind the Mishima blood line is fantastic dont get me wrong but I’m not a big a fan of the Lars character. Maybe if he were a separate entity from the Mishima bloodline? It just seems a little redundant that he would come out as the long lost relative of the Mishimas this late in the story line. Plus it gives off the perception that only anyone related to the Mishimas by blood have any importance in the overall story progression of this franchise. I know kind of silly. But that’s how it looked.
In conclusion I really do enjoy playing the game and find the techniques very very very close to their subject matter i.e. Kyokushin or any of the other martial arts involved with the game. I hope that you all will continue to make exemplary titles for the public to enjoy. But please please please at least read and take into account what many Tekken fans and fans of fighting games the world over have been saying for a long time. This is my first time ever writing a letter to a company and my wishes are that my statements are taken into sincerity and not mistaken for a fan boy spouting off what he would like to see in his next game. Thank you for your time and patience I hope to hear your thoughts on the myriad of topics I brought up. Thank you all and Osu!!!!
p.s. I forwarded this letter to Game Informer thought it would be amusing if it were actually published.